by Kassandra Lamb
Last week, I talked about how perfectionists become that way. Today, the second installment:
Seven Steps to Recovery from Perfectionism
First, set your goal: You are going to perfectly break yourself of being a perfectionist. 😀
Second, acknowledge that perfect is not a good goal. Of course you know that nobody’s perfect at anything, much less everything! So why are you setting yourself up for failure with an impossible goal?
Third, make a list of the three to five most important roles (no more than five!) in your life, in which you want to do the best job possible. These are not in order of importance since they are all extremely important to you. Here’s my list:
I want to be the best possible:
- At my profession (psychotherapist, professor, author)
(See how well I’m doing this task! My list only has FOUR roles on it. 😉 )
Fourth, look at other, less important roles/tasks and actively give yourself permission to be just okay at them. It can help to make a list of these as well.
I’m okay with being a mediocre to good, but not a great:
And the list goes on….
Then when you’re doing those tasks, and the results are less than perfect, say out loud: “That’s good enough! It’s just cooking (gardening, cleaning, etc.). It’s not that important.”
Fifth, go back to the important roles list, and acknowledge that you will NOT be perfect at these either. So set a realistic goal for each, based on what is truly important. And give yourself permission to be less than perfect, i.e. human, even in those roles. Again, here’s my list as an example:
- Mother: Goal – My kid has a much better childhood than I did and is saner than I was coming into adulthood.
- Spouse: Goal – Our relationship remains caring and we stay married, which is more than my parents accomplished.
- Friend: Goal – I am a friend “in need.” I’m there for my friends when the chips are down.
- Professionally: Goal – Most of my clients get saner (those who do their part); most of my students learn (those who do their part); my readers are entertained and enriched in some way by my books.
Sixth, let go of caring emotionally about what others think about your performance. (Have you notice these get tougher as we go along.) If you know you have done something well, then don’t let others’ criticism get under your skin. This doesn’t mean you ignore their feedback if you think it will help you do better. But the approach you need to take is: I did well, but changing this will make it even better.
Authors have to do this with reviews and feedback from editors and readers. Good, great and excellent are very subjective concepts. Some people are not going to like something you thought was pretty good, or they may suggest changes that don’t feel right to you. Consider the feedback of others, but ultimately trust your gut about what you think is good.
~ Why? Because you’re a freakin’ perfectionist! You’ve spent your whole life setting excruciatingly high standards. So if you think it’s “good,” it’s probably great! ~
Seventh, (by far the hardest of all, but well worth the effort) separate being from behavior. You are not a human doing! You are a human being, and you don’t have to be perfect, or even great, at ANYTHING AT ALL in order to be an okay person.
Feeling ashamed of yourself because you didn’t do something to a certain standard is counter-productive. If your self-worth is based on success at tasks, when your performance falls short, you will either give up or approach that task in the future with so much angst and trepidation that you won’t do much better.
But if you tell yourself, “I’m a good person, and I know I can do better than that,” then you will be motivated to pick yourself up and reapply yourself to the task, determined to improve. And your stomach won’t be tied in a knot of shame while you’re at it!
So in the interest of doing things the best you possibly can, you CANNOT let failure at a task undermine your sense of worth as a person! 🙂
My guess is if you are reading this post, then you or someone you know is a perfectionist. Do you have any other helpful hints for overcoming perfectionism?
P.S. Please check out my new release, Cruel Capers on the Caribbean (cover to the right). Just $1.99 on AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, KOBO, & APPLE. (It’s not perfect but it’s as close as I could get it. 😉 )
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